Interview of Ashwini Shajan Author of The Tree of Fortune: From the EssLore Archives:

Q.1 What inspires you to write?

The stories that run wild in my imagination. It simply feels great to put them out there, for the world to read. Also, writing is a medicine for me. Strips me of boredom or moodiness I might be feeling.

Q.2 Tell us more about the book. 

The book is an adventure thriller with supernatural elements. Readers who are familiar with Abrahamic mythology might recognize, as they read, that my story incorporates touches of this mythology – an exploration of the origins of humanity, sin, and the relationship between the Creator’s creation and mankind. Of course, mine is a different story altogether – like an adaptation, written in a much more relatable way for current generations.

Q. 3.  Given the complex publishing process in India, what was your experience?

I always expect the highest level of perfection possible; that’s how I work, and I expect the same from my publisher when it comes to my book. Achieving perfection is time-consuming, so this entire process required a great deal of patience from both my side and the publishers. Ultimately, the results are what matters, so I’d say it was a brilliant experience. I learned a lot of new things along the way.

Q. 4. If your book was adapted into a movie, what would be your dream casting?

Great Question!

  • Mikel – Xolo Maridueña
  • Maara – Zoe Saldana
  • Ethan – Ansel Elgort
  • Derick – Tom Holland
  • Hale – Michael Fassbender
  • Hela – Tilda Swinton
  • Devil – Jacob Tremblay
  • Harmona – Cate Blanchett

Q. 5. If you were to re-create the ending of one book, which book that would be and what would you change?

“Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell is a classic children’s novel that follows the story of Karana, a young Native American girl stranded on an island off the coast of California.

In the original ending, after spending years alone on the island, Karana is eventually rescued by passing sailors. However, instead of leaving the island behind completely, Karana could choose to return periodically and become a guardian of the island, working to preserve its natural beauty and protect its wildlife from outside threats. This would honor the legacy of her ancestors and the bond she forged with the land during her years of solitude.

Q. 6 Describe your writing process.

I first acknowledge to myself the story that has been building inside my head. Initially, I wouldn’t have any idea how I’d start or end it. It is only when I have my eyes on the screen that I can begin. Once I start typing, it flows effortlessly. I cannot stop until I am physically tired of sitting and staring at the screen. For both my first and second stories, I never knew what my climax would be until I began writing that part. Once I finish the first draft, I have to go over the whole thing about 5 to 6 times and edit. As an Editor myself, I handle the editing process on my own. Overall, I can say I enjoy every bit of it. There is one thing I do not enjoy, though – I keep making changes each time I open the story. There is always a better way to write a sentence, and I’m sure every writer experiences the same problem.

Throughout it all, I try to stay open to new ideas, but I mostly draw from personal experiences and research.

Q. 7 What genres or topics do you enjoy writing about the most?

Horror, Mystery, Fantasy

Q. 8 Are there specific messages or feelings you hope your readers take away from your story?

Using an interesting fantasy story, I want to illustrate the significance of breaking away from a selfish lifestyle; a reminder that we share our planet with fellow living creatures and that nature may eventually respond in its own way if we humans exceed our limits. I hope to achieve this for my readers (particularly the younger generation) by taking them into the heart of the woods, with a story that will linger in their minds even after they’ve finished the book.

I have a passion for writing fiction, and contrary to the belief that only non-fiction gives real information, I want to be another good author who can prove that fiction can equally, perhaps more effectively convey important messages.

Q. 9 Last book you read that made you cry.

I usually read mystery thrillers, those that aren’t crying material!

Q. 10 Describe a lesser-known aspect of Ashwini.

People who are close to me know everything about me. However, for those who don’t know me, I am an ambivert with a dominant introverted nature. Though I am friendly, I am extremely observant when people talk to me, and I can detect fakeness and lies quickly without making it evident to whoever is speaking.